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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2007 Dec;32(12):2552-60. Epub 2007 Mar 28.

Interaction between BDNF Val66Met and dopamine transporter gene variation influences anxiety-related traits.

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Molecular and Clinical Psychobiology, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.


The involvement in neural plasticity and the mediation of effects of repeated stress exposure and long-term antidepressant treatment on hippocampal neurogenesis supports a critical role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the pathophysiology of affective and other stress-related disorders. A previously reported valine to methionine substitution at amino-acid position 66 (BDNF Val66Met) seems to account for memory disturbance and hippocampal dysfunction. In the present study, we evaluated the impact of the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism on individual differences in personality traits in a sample of healthy volunteers in relation to other common gene variants thought to be involved in the pathophysiology of affective disorders, such as the serotonin transporter promoter polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) and a variable number of tandem repeat polymorphism of the dopamine transporter gene (DAT VNTR). Personality traits were assessed using the NEO personality inventory (NEO-PI-R) and Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire (TPQ). There was a significant DAT VNTR-dependent association between NEO-PI-R Neuroticism and the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism. Among individuals with at least one copy of the DAT 9-repeat allele, carriers of the BDNF Met allele exhibited significantly lower Neuroticism scores than noncarriers. This interaction was also observed for TPQ Harm Avoidance, a personality dimension related to Neuroticism. Our results support the notion that allelic variation at the BDNF locus--in interaction with other gene variants--influences anxiety- and depression-related personality traits.

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